Levelling from 75 to 80

Adding five more levels to the level cap whenever a new expansion comes out seems to be one of those things that SWTOR just does at this point, but as much as I like levelling in general, I do have to wonder a bit about the purpose of those extra levels nowadays. Levelling is generally so fast that you'll hit max level long before you run out of content, so it doesn't feel like the extra levels are there to preserve some kind of pacing or anything.

Legacy of the Sith has really kind of highlighted the absurdity of it all because the amount of story content added wasn't really that much, yet Bioware still had to make sure that it would cover five levels, even if people stealthed past most of the trash mobs and didn't do the bonus missions. As a result, each completion of a story mission on Manaan gives an absolutely absurd amount of XP - even without having any sort of XP booster active, several of my characters actually jumped up two levels at once when handing in a quest.

My main hitting 80 at the end of Manaan.

For characters who were fully or mostly caught up with the story, this has meant that levelling from 75 to 80 is both quick and easy. For anyone who wasn't up to at least Ossus or beyond however, it's been a very different experience. In recent weeks I've been levelling some of my alts that were level 75 before LotS but were also at a much earlier point in the story from a narrative point of view, and it's been super weird.

My tanking Guardian Starberry, originally created during the Dark vs Light event many years ago now, actually still had the end of her class story to do. I took her to Corellia and because it coincided with a season objective or two, I didn't just do her class story there, but also the planetary storyline and all of the non-heroic side missions. Then I did the final Jedi knight mission on Dromund Kaas. Then I continued on to Makeb and cleared out two and a half mesas there (again, including non-heroic side missions) before I hit 80.

I know that still working on my class mission at 75 meant that I was very much behind (or is that ahead of?) the game's original levelling curve, but with everything being scaled you should still get decent XP everywhere you quest, regardless of what planet it is, right? So having to do a whole planet worth of quests and then some to get through five levels felt quite odd. It reminded me of the way levelling was paced when the game first came out, and I haven't had reason to reminisce about that in a long time!

As a different example, let's take my Scoundrel Racelle, who hadn't really done any story content since Shadow of Revan. Since 7.0 I did all of Ziost with her, a round of dailies there, and then got her started on KotFE. I didn't really get into the Alliance alerts when those became available, but I did do the introductory mission for Star Fortresses. In addition to those things, it took thirteen and a half chapters of KotFE to make it to 80. That's only about a third of a level per chapter! Then again, chapters giving poor XP shouldn't really be news I guess - I noted as far back as 2017 that I managed to complete all the Fallen Empire chapters without gaining a full five levels on my Sith inquisitor at the time.

For yet another example, my Sniper Corfette was on KotET chapter six when the expansion came out, and made it about halfway through Traitor Among the Chiss before dinging 80, though it's worth noting that this included a fairly extended stay on Iokath during which I did the weekly there about three times. So levelling was kind of speeding up by that point, but still far from fast.

Soon after 7.0 launched, I noticed that a lot of people were looking for ways to speed-level their alts from 75 to 80 if said characters weren't caught up with the current story. Several of my guildies took to running heroics as a group to level up and seemed to be quite happy with the results. I was kind of shaking my head at them initially, considering how fast levelling in SWTOR is most of the time, but after having taken more of my own alts through that stretch I have a bit more sympathy for their impatience.

The most bizarre (to me) outgrowth of this desire to speed up levelling from 75 to 80 has been the "Nathema farm". I quizzed a guildie about it after he kept bringing it up in guild chat and eventually learned that this particular speed-levelling method involves running the Nathema Conspiracy flashpoint up to the penultimate boss, Gemini 16, and fighting her to the point where she splits. Then you kill all her clones and jump off the platform to reset the fight. There are even videos advocating for this.

As far as I can tell the reason this works is because killing a flashpoint boss gives a decent chunk of XP, and for some reason Gemini's clones all reward the same amount as you get for killing the boss herself properly. So every aborted boss attempt counts as killing four flashpoint bosses and it only takes a couple of minutes to reset and do it over.

It's the very definition of degenerate gameplay, something I'm generally not fond of, but at the same time I have to admit I was kind of amused by the irony of all of this happening in Nathema of all places - a flashpoint that hasn't been super popular in the past due to its length and perceived difficulty.

Either way I had no plans to take part in that silliness myself, but as these things so often go, circumstances conspired against me. Last night we had our first social ops run on Empire side since 7.0, and someone raised the question of whether it was possible to quickly level an Imperial character from 75 to 80 between his return from work and the start of ops, so of course someone brought up the Nathema method. Before I knew it I had another guildie giving me puppy dog eyes about whether I wasn't going to "help" the two of them level their characters for the op (I am leader of the Imperial alt guild after all), so I had my level 75 Powertech tank strap on her helmet and off we went.

Our expedition took about an hour. We didn't have a stealther to skip a lot of the trash as people sometimes do, so we had to clear the flashpoint properly, which took about half an hour and awarded me about three quarters of a level on its own. Then we spent another half hour killing Gemini's clones a few times and by that point we were all 80. I was actually the last to ding as the others seemed to have additional XP boosts active, while I only remembered to pop a normal consumable when we started on the dedicated farming portion instead of at the start of the flashpoint.

Still, it was impressively fast - though this was of course helped by the fact that there's a double XP event happening this week. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the whole process if it had taken twice as long. As it was, it was a fun little one-time adventure, but I have no particular desire to go back and repeat it.

My Powertech tank dinging 80 in Nathema.

How have you been levelling your alts to 80?

1 comment :

  1. I've done a little of everything, I think. At the beginning of the expansion, I had a couple toons caught up on story, so they got "standard" boosted leveling experience on Manaan. But I also I had about 4 frequently-played alts that were behind on story, so for them I caved and did the Nathema farm. One toon leveled in vet flashpoints (which was an *experience* in the first few weeks, let me say...), And then there were a couple more "utility" alts that I skipped to Ossus. (Ossus itself doesn't give much xp, but the Onslaught content after it does).


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